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‘A natural loner’

RG3 did not always exist. Robert Griffin III is the introverted son of Robert Jr. and Jacqueline Griffin. Both parents were sergeants in the Army, combining for 33 years of service. The culture on their job shaped life at the Griffin household in Copperas Cove, Texas, a town of about 32,000 adjacent to Fort Hood.

Dad was a petroleum supervisor, responsible for helping to lay pipelines during stints in the Gulf and Iraq wars. Mom was an administrative specialist whose duties centered on personnel. Structure and discipline were the foundation for daily life.

Robert III thrived with such core values in place. Perhaps there’s no better explanation for it other than he’s simply hard-wired that way.

“A lot of times, we wouldn’t even know he was in the house he’s so quiet,” Robert Jr. said. “He’s a little bit open now. It took awhile.”

Robert III likes to be by himself. Shutting down, he calls it.

Even before he became famous, he found distinct pleasure in being alone. He’ll put on some R&B - maybe some Usher or, if he feels like going old school, some Luther Vandross - and just be.

“They called me a natural loner because I don’t necessarily need people to hang out with to feel like I’m doing something in life,” Robert III said.

He recalled days at Copperas Cove High School when he’d be the first one into the cafeteria for lunch.

“Most kids, if you sit down first and everybody else sits somewhere else, they get up and go sit where everybody else is,” he said. “I didn’t have a problem sitting there by myself.”

That makes for an interesting dynamic when we’re talking about a star quarterback. That job requires an ability to connect with, motivate and lead others.

And maybe that’s what makes Robert Griffin III so special. He straddles that divide between loner and leader. It’s impossible to do it flawlessly, but he’s more than effective. The proof is Baylor’s 10-win season in 2011 and Copperas Cove’s state championship appearance during Griffin’s senior season.

“If I didn’t play sports, I would not have fit in,” he said. “I was always the quarterback, so boom, I was instantly popular.”

The demands of playing quarterback, then, helped Griffin develop the traits that make him RG3.

As a high school sophomore, he embraced the duality, even flaunted it. He began wearing wacky socks, usually patterned after children’s cartoons. That became one of his trademarks as his fame recently exploded on a national scale.

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